Security Council votes to extend sanctions regime to curb Haiti violence, including arms embargo
The latest resolution comes in the wake of a report laying out evidence of unprecedented “depths of cruelty” from criminal gangs.
19 October 2023, New York: The Security Council, noting its “deep concern” about the “protracted and deteriorating political, institutional, economic, security, human rights, humanitarian and food security crises in Haiti,” today renewed a travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo aimed at individuals and entities responsible for the violence in the country.
The resolution (S/2799 (2023), which extends and builds upon resolution 2653, passed unanimously.
It comes on the heels of a recent report by a panel of experts (S/2023/647), which notes that the security situation in Haiti has significantly worsened since the Council first imposed its sanctions via resolution 2653 in 2022, particularly in the West and Artibonite regions.
The report’s authors caution that Haiti’s economy remains in the hands of a small, powerful group of families, some of whom misuse public resources and employ violence and gangs for personal gains. In addition, they found that the “levels of violence and the depths of cruelty that gangs will go to in violating human rights are unprecedented, with regular indiscriminate attacks against the population and the obstruction of humanitarian assistance.”
The trafficking of arms and ammunition is a primary driver for the expansion of gang control, the Panel states, while the constant demand for firearms and ammunition by gangs and civilians, and the very high prices for both in Haiti, have resulted in the creation of a myriad transnational small-scale smuggling networks.
Crucially, the Panel warns that “gangs possess more firepower than the national police, rendering the arms embargo imposed by Resolution 2653 ineffective.” With that in mind, Haitian stakeholders have emphasized the need for international security support in addition to sanctions and have called for “an expansion of the UN sanctions regime to address the crisis.”
Against this backdrop, by the terms of resolution 2700 (2003), the Council decided today to renew for one year the measures imposed by several key paragraphs in the prior travel ban and assets freeze stipulated in resolution 2653 (2022), and also reaffirmed resolution 2664 (which contains a “humanitarian exemption” to the sanctions). While the Council did not extend the sanctions list today, it directed its Haiti sanctions committee to “consider expeditiously” the update of the list of individuals and entities contained in the prior resolution on the matter, taking into account reporting from the panel of experts.
On the arms embargo, today’s resolution called on all Member States, in particular those in the region, to inspect all cargo to Haiti in their territory, if they had reasonable grounds to believe that it contains items prohibited by the resolution. It also referenced the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission, calling upon it to implement weapons and ammunition management processes and oversight mechanisms for their own weapons and ammunition. It further called upon the MSS to cooperate with the Government of Haiti’s efforts to reinforce their weapons and ammunitions management, as appropriate. It also noted that the arms embargo did not apply to the UN, a UN-authorized mission, or to security units operating under the command of the Government of Haiti.